Parsi feast at The Pavilion | ITC Maurya

Tea Kettle - Parsi Food ITC Maurya
Interiors of The Pavilion - Parsi Food ITC Maurya
Interiors of The Pavilion – Parsi Food ITC Maurya

Chef Parvez Patel of Ideal Corner, Mumbai, celebrates traditional Parsi recipes in Delhi’s The Pavilion at ITC Maurya. 

I have often felt that my mother’s food has an uncanny resemblance to Parsi cuisine. She has never visited any Irani Café in Mumbai or trained in cooking Parsi cuisine. But, the mint chutney of Patra Ni Machci, the tomato based gravy of Salli Murgh and the spicy potato of Tarkari na Kebab, has always felt home-like. Although, I have had nothing like this, growing up – Pav instead of chapatti, caramelized rice, Akuri – and there’s a lot that’s new to me, but, somehow, I have embraced Parsi food as my own.

So, upon discovering that Chef Parvez Patel of the famous Ideal Corner, Mumbai, would be dishing out traditional recipes, right here in Delhi, I jumped onto the opportunity with utter delight.

ITC Maurya’s Parsi food spread at The Pavilion, started off with a plate full of Ghost Na Kebab, Kolmi Na cutlet, Tarkari Na Kebab and Gajar Mewa nu Achar.

Saying that I loved the kebabs, would be an understatement.

The spicy potato stuffed with mint chutney, finely chopped vegetables and caramalised onions and coated in batter before frying, Tarkari Na kebab could make even a hardcore carnivore go gaga over it. Perhaps it’s the carbs that do the magic. Ghost Na Kebab (which we also had with Dhansak), made with minced lamb and Parsi spices, was so soft and tender, that it melted in my mouth.

The star, however, was Kolmi Na Cutlet. Marinated coarsely chopped prawns, mixed with onion, coriander, chili, salt, turmeric and deep-fried in egg batter. Juicy with the great crunch of prawns, intact, I liked that the prawns weren’t minced finely, as that would have meant, losing the flavour and texture of such a beautiful ingredient. I paired them with the yummy Gajar Mewa Nu Achar, made out of pickled carrots, jaggery and raisins. The sweet, tangy, spicy achar can be the best dip to relish the kebabs or sadiya (Sago chips) with.

For mains, I had Dhansak, Caramalised Rice, Kachumber Salad and Ghost Na Kebab. The tender Lamb meat in Dhansak, cooked with lentils and vegetables tasted heavenly! The deep striking flavour of this dish always intrigues me. Not instantly likeable, however, if eaten with rice, kebabs and kachumber salad, it’s make for a great mix of meaty, tangy, soupy and sweet flavours, all at the same time. Squeeze a lemon on top and it becomes divine! Although amongst Parsis, this dish isn’t prepared for joyous celebrations, but ironically it’s the most talked about dish, outside of the community.

I moved on to Salli Murgh, Patra Ni Machchi and Akuri with Pav (I missed actual pav, substituted here by dinner rolls). The sweet and salty gravy, well-cooked chicken and crunchy potato salli – it all felt amazing! Salli Murgh is a dish, which I often feel is well suited for Delhiites’ palate. And, one can hardly go wrong with Patra Ni Machchi, owing to the delicious mint chutney that covers the soft, steamed fish wrapped in banana leaf. So delicious, I couldn’t take my hands off it.

From the vegetarian section, I loved Tarkari Lagansara Stew. Potatoes, peas, sweet potato, jimikand cooked in tomato and cinnamon. Even though, Jimikand isn’t one of my favourite vegetables, I loved the tarkari, as it was flavoured deliciously. When I checked with Chef Parvez and he did mention Elephant Yam, I realised, that wonders could be created out of anything.

And, in case you find scrambled eggs to be bland, Akuri will make you fall in love with them. Chef Parvez served us, undoubtedly, the best Akuri I have had in Delhi. Ginger, chili, chopped onions, coriander and tomatoes with runny eggs were my favorite from the entire meal, something I can savour everyday!

All this I downed with a customary glass of Raspberry juice.

I was amazed at how they had actually managed to recreate a little Irani Café in the middle of a five-star Coffee shop. The Parsi Chai, Fans, French Hearts, Parle Toffees, Mawa cookies, rusks – an entire spread of Parsi staples.

For desserts, I had Sev – roasted vermicelli, coated in sugar syrup and garnished with pistachio. The Persian flavours stood out in this sticky dessert, an absolute delight for ones with sweet tooth. Lagan Nu Custard a.k.a ‘the wedding custard’ was cooked evenly, topped with chironji seeds. However, I did miss the strong flavour of cardamom, I usually associate with it. My favourite was Rawa, a semolina pudding garnished with dried rose petals. Warm, delicious pudding made with milk, sugar and semolina that wasn’t roasted. I liked the texture, quite similar to my favourite Indian dessert, Kheer.

Throughout our meal, Chef Parvez was very gracious and took really good care of us. With an angelic smile, he was enthusiastic while talking about his native cuisine. He happily agreed that how ‘Indian’, the Parsi food has become, with loads of Gujarati, British and Goan influences. Jokingly, he even said that all they had were fruits and raspberry. His energy was quite inspiring and his warmth and humility were heartening, as never once he felt intimating, considering he has prepared meals for Gandhis and many international delegates.

I really believe, Parsis transfer their love, zeal and joy to their food, much like us Punjabis. Probably, the main reason, I connect with this food – so easily, so spontaneously.

Note: The Parsi Spread at The Pavilion is available till 29 May 2016, to know more, contact: 011 2611 2233

P.S.: I was invited to review the Parsi Food at The Pavilion. All views and thoughts are my own.

In a nutshell:

Location: The Pavilion (24-hour Café), ITC Maurya, New Delhi

Atmosphere: Luxurious comfortable seating and clean surroundings. The coffee shop is a great place for dining with family, friends or for business meetings.

Service: Hospitable, courteous and efficient staff, with service par excellence.

Food: Although, the Parsi Food spread is available till the 29 May 16, one can always visit the place for a lavish Lunch or Dinner Buffet.

Must Haves: Akuri, Kolmi Na Cutlet, Dhansak, Patra Ni Machi

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